JERUSALEM—The following statement was issued today by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office.
WIESENTHAL CENTER ISRAEL DIRECTOR LEADS PROTEST AGAINST EXTREME RIGHT INDEPENDENCE DAY MARCH
16 February 2014 KAUNAS, LITHUANIA—The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel Director and chief Nazi hunter Dr. Efraim Zuroff yesterday afternoon led a protest against an ultra-nationalist neo-Nazi march in honor of Lithuanian Independence Day, held here, in Lithuania’s inter-war capital, whose large and important Jewish community was virtually totally annihilated during the Holocaust by the Nazis, with highly significant participation of Lithuanian volunteer collaborators.
The Center’s delegation, which also included Yiddish professor Dovid Katz, noted Lithuanian film-maker Saulius Beržinis, and leading Jewish community activist Milan Chersonski, was joined by more than two dozen local anti-fascist demonstrators led by Lithuanian journalist Evaldas Balčiūnas, who has written extensively (www.defendinghistory.com) about Lithuanian efforts to glorify Holocaust perpetrators.
In his statement to the media, Dr. Zuroff emphasized the use by the demonstrators of the image of Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, who served as prime minister of the Lithuanian provisional government established in Kaunas shortly after the Nazi invasion, and which enthusiastically supported the Third Reich and the systematic annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry.
According to Zuroff:
“Those who seek to inspire patriotism by invoking the memory of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis are in effect expressing support for the tragic annihilation of Lithuanian Jewry. In that context, the shouts of the demonstrators ‘Lithuania for Lithuanians’ ring starkly ominous.
“The consistent refusal of Lithuania’s political leaders to condemn such behavior will only encourage the growth of the extreme right in a country where professed patriotism led to massive collaboration in Holocaust crimes.”